Friday, March 26, 2010

when Peach asks you, in the quiet of her mushroom castle bedroom

This is hilarious and well-written, an excerpt from the book Overqualified.

To: Nintendo
Re: Game Design

Dear Nintendo,

I am writing to apply for the position of game designer with your company. We have a chance here to help children experience games that are more true to life than any game before them. Computer graphics have improved and improved and improved, and some day soon we're going to have to ask ourselves where we can go next in our search for realism.

We need virtual pet games where you clean and feed and love your furry little friend and that car still comes out of nowhere so smoothly, a god of aerodynamics and passenger safety. Where you hear your father's quiet joke that night, when he thinks you are asleep.

We need a new Mario game, where you rescue the princess in the first ten minutes, and for the rest of the game you try and push down that sick feeling in your stomach that she's "damaged goods", a concept detailed again and again in the profoundly sex negative instruction booklet, and when Luigi makes a crack about her and Bowser, you break his nose and immediately regret it. When Peach asks you, in the quiet of her mushroom castle bedroom "do you still love me?" you pretend to be asleep. You press the A button rhythmically, to control your breath, keep it even.

We need an airport simulator, where the planes carry your whole family from A to B, job to job, and dad still drinks in the shower and your older sister still has casual sex that she confides might bring back a feeling she's certain she didn't imagine. Where the plane touches down and you all lean forward in your seats because of inertia, and again and again someone says "I hate to fly".


Joey Comeau

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Azer said yesterday that your trust reputation is like a pile of sand that you collect in your hands. Over time, you gather piece after piece, and the sandpile grows bigger. But all it takes is one time of letting your hands go, and all the sand falls through onto the ground.

It made me think of Tiger Woods. And of friendships.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

gamer segments

While playing the starcraft 2 beta with two friends, at my house.

Me: "One day I will make a game called 'Happy in Happy-land ... Goes Eating'."

MB: "When do the explosions come in?"

Scott Adams on names

I like this analysis of iPad vs Kindle, from Scott Adams (Dilbert creator):

Much has been made of the fact that iPad sounds like feminine protection. I get that. But how does that name influence consumer behavior? Feminine protection is generally considered essential. Perhaps that subconscious connection actually works in Apple's favor.

Consider the name Apple. An apple is the Christian symbol of an irresistible urge, whereas Kindle sounds like the unimportant twigs you use to start a fire. Kindle also sounds old-timey, as in "Grandma's got her Kindle and her rocking chair."

Compared to the Kindle, Apple wins on name, coolness, interface, cost-per-person, extra applications, web surfing, and probably its media distribution model. Kindle wins on screen readability, which is mostly relevant to oldsters. Battery life will be good enough on both.

I'm not sure that battery life will be good enough on the iPad. My Kindle battery lasts for a month.

Monday, March 15, 2010

surprise song

To quote from my own blog post of two days ago:

I have a fantasy that a breakthrough will happen, and a beautiful melody will emerge from my throat, and I will stand there stricken, tears streaming down my face as one soaring note after another rings out from a place I didn't know existed deep within my soul.

Well, it happened. Not the part about tears streaming down my face, but everything else happened.

My instructor said that it was gratifying to see me undergo such a large change. She said, "You made my night." I said, "You made my year."

That may have been an exaggeration. But it was pretty awesome!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

singing lessons

On Monday, I am starting a series of three singing lessons, 30 minutes every week. I bought a coupon from a music lesson web site. This is my instructor:

I am one of the worst singers that I know. When I go to karaoke with Chinese friends, they often encourage me to sing ("We're all amateurs! Don't be modest!"). If I succumb to the pressure and actually sing, it becomes awkward. Sometimes people take the other microphone and sing along with me to guide me. Afterwards, people won't meet my gaze. They say things like, "The important thing is that you were courageous enough to do it."

In college, I tried to improve. I was in glee club for a year. I took a group singing class. I took a music / EE course where we analyzed the frequencies of music. I did a 30-minute individual lesson with the glee club coach.

None of these helped, so I gave up.

But now I bought this coupon, so I'm going to give it another go. I have a fantasy that a breakthrough will happen, and a beautiful melody will emerge from my throat, and I will stand there stricken, tears streaming down my face as one soaring note after another rings out from a place I didn't know existed deep within my soul.

However, my recent motto is "Happiness equals results minus expectations." So I will keep to a realistic expectation, which is that my singing instructor will say after the lesson, "The important thing is that you were courageous enough to do this."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

instant gratification

Yesterday I had dinner at Google with my friend Rose. We ran into a couple who I haven't seen for a while. I really like this couple. They both have great personalities and are fun to be around. Plus the girl is a few years older than the guy, a social trend which I support:

After a few pleasantries:

Me: "So, you guys have been together for a while now."

The Guy: "Actually..." [shifting his hand to reveal a wedding band on his finger]

Me: "Wow, you're married! Congratulations! When did that happen?"

The Guy: "A year ago."

Me: "That's great! And ... how did you propose?"

The Guy: "I didn't. [gesturing toward his wife] She did."

Me: [turning toward the girl] "And how did you propose?"

The Girl: "I just walked over to building 42 [one of the Google engineering buildings] and asked him."

Me: "On a regular workday?"

The Girl: "Yeah."

Me: "You just thought of it, and then you immediately walked over and did it?"

The Girl: "Yeah."

Me: "Wow, that's awesome."

Sunday, March 07, 2010


Me: "Did you see when Obama visited Google and answered the question about sorting 32-bit integers?"

Azer: "No, I missed it."


Azer: "Obama definitely has his charm. His answer was cute. If it were Al Gore, he'd say, [dull voice] 'When I was at Harvard, we made an improved version of quicksort. It was called quickersort. That's what I would use to sort a million 32-bit integers. Also, I invented quickersort.'"

Me: [lol]

Saturday, March 06, 2010

2% experiment

Azer: "Massachusetts has had its own healthcare system for a few years now. Obama's healthcare plan is based on theirs, with modifications.

Me: "Oh, I didn't know that."

Azer: "If it were up to me, I would take what works and implement it across the country, and then run the modified version in a single state to see how it fares. Don't immediately roll out the modifications to the entire country! Run a 2% experiment first."

Me: [lol] "That's very wise."

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

home sweet home

I am very grateful for my new housemate R!

R is a former colleague from Google, who I've known for five years. It's nice living with a friend, because we can have conversations about work, love, and life. He cooks every few days, and I like to do the dishes afterwards, which he hates. He enjoys taking out the trash, which I hate. It works out very well.

French toast and tea.

The dish on the left is a complex Persian rice dish stuffed with green beans and meat.

My neighbors are happy, because they are very friendly with each other, but rarely see me. R has been talking to them a lot more than I do, and is now planning a bike outing. My next-door neighbors brought over home-baked cookies twice since R moved in. A different neighbor brought oranges from her tree.

I ran into Elizabeth at a loft party, and she asked me, "Niniane, did you move to the midwest?"

"What?" I said. "No."

"Your tweets are all about how your housemate cooked, or your neighbor baked cookies. I was thinking that you must have moved to the midwest."

I guess I'm just a suburb-y kind of person.